Almost 5 years after supporting DJ Shadow's Australian tour, Mos Def finally returned to our shores for his first and hopefully not last headlining tour. After so many of his peers, especially Talib Kweli had visited Australia on numerous occasions over the years, it was a surprise that it took him so long to grace us with his presence. It was well worth the wait though.
I can't remember too much about his set before DJ Shadow back in 2006 but I remember feeling that he was the smoothest cat I had seen on stage. That still holds true today. Playing to an absolute packed house at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney, Mos Def put on one of the more amazing hip-hop shows I've seen in a very long time, if ever. It seemed like he had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand before he even got on stage. The second he strutted out I could feel and hear the entire crowd just become instantly mesmerised by him. Something you don't see often at a hip-hop show.
From the very first song that Mos punched out, he delivered it with such a swagger, a confidence, a smoothness (that should be a word if it isn't already) and a stage presence that I've never seen in a musician of the hip-hop genre. The crowd was in a collective wow for the entire set. Mos Def isn't the type of rapper that comes out, delivers his lyrics, smiles at the crowd, pays tribute to a dead rapper, says "I love you Sydney" and then walks off stage. I don't want to say I went to the Mos Def concert, I want to say I spent an evening with Mos Def, much like the Common show I caught as part of the New Yorker festival in Manhattan. Though, I didn't have to listen to a 40 minute interview with Mos Def, like I did Common, to feel like I got to know this guy. He came out and rapped, sang, danced, spoke to the crowd and he didn't have to even try to entertain us. It seemed like he was just being himself on the stage, a self portrait, not an airbrushed Sex and the City poster that shows us what we want to see.
I haven't been blown away by a performer like this since I saw Ben Harper on his Burn to Shine tour at the Hordern Pavillion back in 2000.
You're probably thinking how can I only give this show four and a half stars after describing it as one of the best shows I've ever been to but there were a couple flaws. Talib Kweli was billed to be a special guest but didn't make it so I was a little disappointed we didn't get to see Black Star together. Also, as much as I love his album, The Ecstatic, almost every single song he played that night was from that album and not much old stuff or any Black Star which we've become accustomed to at Talib Kweli shows and even when Mos opened for DJ shadow... So those things stopped this from being a 5 star show.
Life In Marvelous Times